Experts in Canada are looking for the cause of a mysterious nervous disease. But the provincial government appears to be blocking research.
New Brunswick – Hallucinations, dementia, massive weight loss: More and more people in New Brunswick, Canada, have been struggling with these and a few other symptoms for years. A mysterious disease is apparently spreading more and more here – researchers suspect a rare nervous disease behind the symptoms.
The first case is said to have occurred in the Canadian province as early as 2013 and, according to official figures, 48 people have contracted it since 2018. Other sources, on the other hand, already speak of significantly more people affected. A whistleblower spoke to the Guardian, for example, of around 150 people affected. While scientists are feverishly trying to find the cause of the disease, the government is silent on the subject.
Mysterious disease emerged in Canada: population loses confidence
At the beginning of 2021, the mysterious illness came into the public eye for the first time because an internal message from the Canadian health authority to the medical professionals in the country became public. In this, the doctors were asked to look out for symptoms that are similar to those of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). According to the Robert Koch Institute, CJD is a rare neurological condition that limits mental and motor skills.
After nine deaths that could be related to the mysterious disease became known in 2021, the New Brunswick government stepped in and requested further investigations. The New Brunswick Department of Health originally wanted to publish the first results on the mysterious nervous disease in January 2022. So far this has not happened.
Instead, reports are mounting that the population’s trust in the authorities is dwindling – because they do not seem to support research on the disease, but rather to boycott it.
Canada: Research team suspects mysterious disease
According to official information, over several months several neurologists, environmental experts and members of the government have conducted clinical examinations and interviews to get to the bottom of the cause of the disease. In April 2021, the suspicion fell on the nerve agent BMAA for the first time. A few days after the suspicion was expressed, the regular meetings were put on hold for the time being, according to information from Focus Online.
The neurotoxin can cause various neurological diseases and even death and is found in salt water, fresh water and on land and can be ingested by plants and animals and thus transmitted to humans – including lobsters. And lobster fishing is one of the most important industries in the Canadian province, alongside tourism.
In initial surveys released by the New Brunswick Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance in October 2021, 91 percent of those affected said they ate lobster shortly before the onset of the disease. Still, New Brunswick Health Secretary Dorothy Shephard said in a press release that an investigation ruled out known foods, environmental factors, or the behavior of the sick person as contributing factors.
Mystery illness in Canada: is the government covering up cases?
In addition, the authorities are said to have tried to correct the number of cases of the mysterious disease downwards. Johanne Boucher, who is also affected by the previously unexplained symptoms, told the Canadian broadcaster CBC about a letter in which the Ministry of Health informed her that her illness was no longer an official case.
CBC also reported that New Brunswick has declined government funding to support further investigations. According to Health Minister Shephard, the local health authority is responsible for the locally occurring cases of the mysterious disease. In addition, there is currently nothing that the federal government can do that the local authorities are not already doing. (iwe)